Milosevic opens door to new peace talks on Kosovo
April 22, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has indicated that any new peace negotiations should exclude NATO countries, because NATO alliance members dominated earlier talks.
In his first interview with a U.S. news outlet since NATO bombings of his country began last month, Milosevic expressed concern that Belgrade negotiators did not have one- on-one meetings with ethnic Albanian Kosovars in three weeks of talks held in France.
"There were no negotiations at all...in all those three long weeks, two in Rambouillet and one in Paris, there were not one single meeting between the delegations to talk to each other.
"Albanians and Serbs and others in state delegation couldn't exchange one single word," Milosevic told American academic Ron Hatchett in an interview with Houston TV station KHOU.
"I believe when aggression stops, when bombing stops, then it will be very easy to continue the political process," Milosevic said.
He said it was clear negotiations would have to be conducted directly between Kosovars and Serbs with no participation by the international community.
"In Rambouillet, we are not talking to Albanians, we are talking to Americans, who would like to take our territory for themselves and for NATO. And Albanians were just an excuse for them."
Milosevic went on to offer Red Cross access to three U.S. soldiers -- Staff Sgt. Andrew Ramirez, 24, Staff Sgt. Christopher Stone, 25, and Spec. Steven Gonzales, 22 -- held captive by Yugoslavia and said they were being treated "well".
"They are healthy, and in everything the Geneva Convention is respected. So, we are civilized, we will not damage your guys."
"We are a very old people in Europe, very old, with a long tradition, and we are respecting prisoners of war. Nothing will happen to your soldiers," Milosevic told
Asked if Red Cross officials could visit them, he said, "I think the Red Cross can visit them. I don't know that they are not allowed. ... If there is a Red Cross mission that is under the Geneva Convention they can see them." A spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Suzanne Berger, said the Red Cross had not been notified by Belgrade that the prisoners could be visited.
So far, no one outside of Yugoslavia has visited the three since they were captured on a border patrol near the Yugoslav-Macedonia border on March 31.
Milosevic also said he blamed NATO's "dirty aggression" for creating the refugee crisis in Kosovo. And he accused the United States of waging two wars -- one with bombs and the other a media blitz.
He talked of his past links with the United States. "I was not a politician. Professionally I was in the industry for a long time and then I was a banker. And I was a banker for eight years, I was president of the largest Yugoslav bank. At that time we were dealing with lots of American banks and I had a lot of friends in the U.S."
Countering NATO allegations of forced expulsions of ethnic Albanians, Milosevic said there was no doubt many Kosovar Albanians were fleeing the region -- but it wasn't because of his policies.
"You are right," he said, "there are a lot of refugees but they are the result of bombing and they are not only Albanians."
"Everybody's running away because of bombing. Serbs, Turks, Gypsies, Muslims. Of course, Albanians, their number is biggest," he said. "Deers are running, birds are running, everybody's running away because of bombing."
He said it was never his or his country's policy to "to expel any city of Yugoslavia from any part of this country."
I must tell you when then was a war in Croatia we protected all Croats in Serbia; we protected when there was a war in Bosnia, we protected all Muslims in Serbia. We preserved all the multi-ethnic state within former Yugoslavia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia today with 26 different national communities," Milosevic said.
The interview was conducted Monday in Belgrade by Hatchett, a KHOU military analyst who has worked in the Defense Department and who is currently the director of the Center for International Studies at The University of St. Thomas in Houston.
Hatchett has reported from Belgrade for KHOU since shortly after NATO forces launched Operation Allied Force in late March.
CNN INDEPTH SPECIAL SECTION:
Ground troops option to be reviewed by NATO leaders
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.